Bafana coach Baxter and stand-in captain Khune credit win over Burkina Faso to shrink

08 October 2017 - 13:48 By Sazi Hadebe
Stuart Baxter during the South African national mens soccer team press conference at Southern Sun Montecasino on October 02, 2017 in Johannesburg.
Stuart Baxter during the South African national mens soccer team press conference at Southern Sun Montecasino on October 02, 2017 in Johannesburg.
Image: Lee Warren/Gallo Images

It took the help of a sports psychologist for Bafana Bafana players to regain their composure and belief that they had talent in abundance to beat Burkina Faso 3-1 at FNB Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Bafana stand-in captain Itumeleng Khune and coach Stuart Baxter revealed that their extra weapon during a post match conference of their 2018 Fifa World Cup tie which was boycotted by many SA soccer fans who had lost faith in the national side following their back-to-back shameful defeats to minnows Cape Verde.

“It was very interesting because the first thing that we did with Martin Scheepers was to have a staff meeting where we ran things by him on what we wanted to address‚” said Baxter of the influential wise words of the psychologist.

“He gave us some points and said of the five we were already doing four. The one big point that he said was missing was that he wanted the players’ minds to be much on the ‘here and now’.

We talked about the Cape Verde and the fact that it was a match that we went to already looking to Russia. He identified that we were not in the ‘here and now’ in that game.”

“He also said that it's going to take us about a year to get a winning culture in our mind-set if he keeps doing what he was doing all the time with us.

"I was afraid that he was going to be one of those people coming from the outside and the players thinking it's boring. I didn't want that to happen.

"The players had a session with him and said they thought it was interesting. So it was good that him on board‚” he added.

Khune‚ who had an influence in both second and third goal with his impeccable distribution from his goal area‚ also showered Martin with praise saying he managed to work on their minds which helped them to focus and put all their energies to the match.

“Martin did a great job on working on our mind-set because we were mostly focusing on social stress which we all go through. Most of the time‚ when we're in camp we only have one training and what you do with the rest of the day‚” said Khune.

“You're on your phone and you're on social media. You find people there sending you not so nice messages and we were discussing that with him and the coach.

He's been on our case in that we have a good training session and then get on the bus open up our phones and get messages that are negative. It's just spoils the whole day and all the good work you've done with the coach.

“We lost two games against Cape Verde and it hasn't been nice this past week. We knew that we needed to get ourselves up by getting positive results.

"And we played good entertaining football on Saturday because we had our minds where they were supposed to be.”

“We forgot about what had happened against Cape Verde and we were looking at the future but we had to deal with today's game first.

"We needed to get our people back to supporting the team again. So we are happy with Martin's contribution because he worked on our minds and even going forward now we know what to do when things are this way‚” added Khune.